ORACLE ARENA — Like him or not, there is no argument that LeBron James is one of the greatest to ever play the sport of basketball.
Warriors fans get only one chance a year to see this future Hall of Famer. In the first half Wednesday night, James gave the fans their money’s worth. After that, well, 1-for-2 isn’t bad.
James became the youngest player — at the age of 28 years and 17 days, and only the fourth under the age of 30 — to amass 20,000 career points in the Heat’s 92-75 win over the Warriors, a game shown nationally on ESPN.
In the second quarter with 2:45 remaining, James hit the 20,000 plateau on a 12-foot jumper. The Warriors did not acknowledge the milestone, but with the Internet and advent of Twitter, many fans knew and gave James a loud ovation.
James said after the game the moment meant “everything”:
Post-Game Audio: Heat Forward LeBron James
“First of all, it means that I’ve been able to be healthy and be out on the floor and be able to do what I love to do. I love the game of basketball and I try to give everything to the game and hopefully it continues to give back to me. It means a lot.”
James joins Kobe Bryant, Wilt Chamberlain, and Michael Jordan as the only players in NBA history to score 20,000 points before the age of 30.
Earlier in the first quarter, James assisted on a slam dunk to teammate Dwyane Wade and with that second helper, he also reached 5,000 career assists.
Post-Game Audio: Heat Guard Dwyane Wade
Eric Spoelstra said James gets the numbers because he plays the right way:
Post-Game Audio: Heat Head Coach Eric Spoelstra
“We took a moment in (the locker room) there together – a big time moment. He’s a special guy, a special player, a once in a generation type player. The assists, I think that he’s probably more proud of that. The scoring… 20,000. That’s really notable for a guy who thinks of scoring as secondary.”
Once James achieved his milestones, the rest of the game was a disaster. Warriors point guard Stephen Curry sat out after hurting his surgically repaired right ankle again in shootaround earlier in the day.
Warriors Head Coach Mark Jackson said they would shut Curry down, give him treatment, and see where it goes:
“It was really a freak injury. … We don’t do much in shootaround — (he was) just chasing after a loose rebound. It’s unfortunate.”
Without Curry, and already missing Andrew Bogut as he continues to rehab his left ankle, the Warriors find themselves going south quickly.
The Warriors were outscored on the fast break 22-5. At one point it was 20-0 before Golden State finally got rid of the goose egg. Second chance points were also lopsided, 16-6 in favor of Miami.
Even before Curry’s untimely absence, Golden State had lost three of its four previous games. Guard Jarrett Jack said after the game:
Post-Game Audio: Warriors Guard Jarrett Jack
“A lot of people are going to point to Stephen (Curry) being out or whatever the case may be. … Obviously we would love to have him in the lineup but no one person is going to be able to save the way we’ve been playing the past couple of games.”
In garbage time, the Warriors outscored the Heat 25-12 in the fourth quarter. But that was only good enough to lose by 17 points after they trailed by as many as 34 following Chris Bosh’s only 3-pointer with 3:06 to play in the 3rd quarter.
Coming up next, the Warriors hit the road for a two-game road trip at San Antonio and New Orleans. Jack said:
” The best thing is we have is a chance to go to San Antonio to correct it and get back to our style of play.”
SFBay’s Sarah Todd will have coverage of the Warriors’ team practice Thursday before they leave for a two-game road trip against the San Antonio Spurs and New Orleans Hornets.
The Warriors have not beaten the Spurs in San Antonio since February 14, 1997, a 27-game losing streak. … Cost of gas then was around $1.25 a gallon. … Jack started in place of Curry and finished with 16 points in 32 minutes. … David Lee recorded his 24th double-double, second most this season in the NBA with 12 points and 11 rebounds. … The Warriors are 13-3 against the Eastern Conference. They are 1-3 against the Miami Heat (1-1) and the Orlando Magic (0-2). … It’s the third time this season the Warriors have lost consecutive games.